STTR Phase II: Low-cost Nanostructured Anti-reflection Coatings for Solar Energy Applications

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
CSD Nano
306 NW 32nd Street, Corvallis, OR, 97330-5023
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Paul Ahrens
(541) 913-9693
Business Contact:
Paul Ahrens
(541) 913-9693
Research Institution:
Oregon State University
Ken Williamson
1500 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, OR, 97331-
(541) 737-1000
Nonprofit college or university
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes to optimize and demonstrate the scale-up of nanostructured anti-reflective coatings (ARCs) to meet the specifications of solar energy customers using high-performance processes along with a novel solution-phase synthesis and deposition microreactor. Results from Phase I and industrial partner input demonstrate that the nanostructured ARC has an optical performance that far exceeds existing industry solutions, with a low reflectance across a broad wavelength spectrum. The intellectual merits are not limited to a single discovery, but a series of breakthroughs will will allow this low-cost, industry-compatible ARC solution to satisfy the solar industry's need for increasing efficiency. This is accomplished by leveraging the nanostructure's properties of incremental change in the refractive index as light waves pass through the coating structure (i.e. gradient surfaces) and an environmentally benign, low-cost microreactor technology that can be integrated with existing industry processes. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project concerns an enabling competitive advantage for glass and solar module manufacturers, which will also drive government initiatives for low-cost solar energy. The anti-reflective coating being developed focuses on increasing solar module efficiency by providing a low-cost method to reduce light reflection from solar modules. The International Technology Roadmap for PV (ITRPV) calls for a reduction in front-side module reflection from 4% to 2% in 2013 and reduction from 2% to 0.5% by 2017. The proposed ARC can reduce front surface reflection from 4% (bare glass) to less than 0.5%, beating the ITRPV roadmap by five years. The increase in light reaching the solar cells will enhance electricity output and decrease balance-of-system (BOS) costs. This performance and cost advantage creates significant commercial opportunities in the solar module value chain. This innovation has the potential to capitalize on the estimated 2011 $4.6 billion thin-film photovoltaic (PV) market, for which production is expected to grow at a 30% annual rate through 2016.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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